Another member of the greatest generation is gone. Richard Overton, the oldest living American veteran from World War II, passed away Thursday night in Austin, Texas, after a brief battle with pneumonia. He was 112.
Overton was born in 1906 and joined the United States Army in 1940 as a member of the 188th Engineer Aviation Battalion.
Overton was sent to Pearl Harbor a couple of weeks after it was bombed, and he recalled what he saw KVUE, the ABC affiliate in Austin, reported.
“Every window that was in those houses was shot out. So when we got there, that’s the way it was. And the ships, some of them were still floating, some of them still smoking,” Overton said to the station. “Some of them were still burning.”
Overton was part of a segregated unit that hopped from one island to another in the Pacific—something fairly common for a U.S. infantryman during World War II. His stops included Guam, Palau, and Iwo Jima.
“You heard in Iwo Jima the water turned to blood? Well, it did,” he said in the interview. “When you talking about some of the stuff we had to go through, I never want to go through that again.”
Upon his return to Austin in 1945, Overton worked at local furniture store before landing a job as a courier for the Texas Department of Treasury, working from the Texas State Capitol. He worked under four Texas governors before retiring. His cousin, Volma Overton, told ABC News that Overton would often “drive a golf cart to the bank to deposit millions of dollars in checks.”
He lived for 73 years in the Austin home he built in 1945. Overton began garnering fame five years ago when he was recognized as America’s oldest living World War II veteran. He was invited by President Barack Obama to the White House for special recognition and then went to participate in a Veteran’s Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
Overton later called it one of the proudest moments of his life, according to KVUE.
Two years later, he began a battle with pneumonia at the age of 109. Overton faced the possibility of living in a nursing home—and likely losing his home on Hamilton Avenue in Austin. Thanks to the internet and his recent fame, a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $400,000 to provide in-home care.
Earlier this year, the Austin City Council changed the name of his street from Hamilton Avenue to Richard Overton Avenue, and declared that day Richard Overton Day.
“I’m proud to get that,” Overton said.
As for turning 112, Overton quipped, “That’s pretty old, ain’t it? I can still get around, I can still talk, I can still see, I can still walk.”
Then pneumonia returned this month, and he was finally released from the hospital just three days ago, on Christmas Eve.
Overton credited his long life on Earth to keeping good friends, smoking a cigar every day and occasionally enjoying good whiskey.
Twenty-one different presidents served the United States during Overton's lifetime.